Becoming a “successful” drinker and a graduate: A sociological perspective on alcohol consumption by university students

Claire Tanner, Jo Lindsay, Rose Leontini, Sian Supski, Julie Hepworth, Toni Schofield, John Germov

    Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


    There has been significant investment and advancements in the neuroscience of alcohol. Research in this field has investigated the effects of alcohol on the brain, the role of genes in alcoholic dependence, models of different stages of the addiction cycle, and the development and testing in animal models of medications (Reilly, Noronha, & Warren, 2014). Some of this research has determined that environment plays a critical role in alcohol-seeking and consumption behaviors in animal models (McBride & Li, 1998; Spanagel, Noori, & Heilig, 2014). But there are significant limitations to what an animal study can tell us about the complex, highly variable, and contingent meanings and uses of alcohol for people in different social contexts. A sociological perspective offers critical insights into how social contexts and institutions shape alcohol use. This chapter contributes to a mature field in the sociological study of alcohol use. We consider the experience of undergraduate university students (“students”) as consumers of two key commodities that are intertwined and in tension—the consumption of alcohol as a pleasurable aspect of the university lifestyle and the consumption of university education itself,culminating in the qualification. Drawing on qualitative interviews with students, we describe features of university students’ drinking. In so doing, we identify key dimensions of students’ alcohol use and their conceptualization of university as a unique space and time in one’s life course to drink.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationNeuroscience of alcohol
    Subtitle of host publicationMechanisms and treatment
    EditorsVictor R. Preedy
    Place of PublicationLondon, England
    Number of pages8
    ISBN (Electronic)9780128131268
    ISBN (Print)9780128131251
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2019


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